Photograph courtesy of Lea Von Bidder
Three years ago, I started a company called Ava with a big vision—bringing women’s Health into the 21st century. My company's first product, the Ava bracelet, launched last July. It helps women track their cycles and detect their fertile windows earlier (and in a much more convenient and comfortable way) than any other method currently available. I strongly believe that this technology is a game-changer, especially for women trying to conceive.
Starting this company has been the most demanding, humbling, and exciting experience of my life and has changed me profoundly. I’m happy to share the things I’ve learned about myself in the hope that it will help and encourage others on their entrepreneurial journeys.
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Lesson #1: Passion is everything
I hate sounding like a millennial cliché, but: Starting this company, I learned how important it is for me to work on something that I truly believe in and identify with. My last company was a premium chocolate manufacturing and retail company in India, and I loved every minute of it. (Who wouldn’t? It’s chocolate!) Now I’m working in a women’s health company, an area that I’ve been passionate about for a long time. I’ve been incredibly lucky with my work the past few years, and I'll never forget how I tried to snooze my alarm clock as often as possible when I was still working in a consulting company. Every job has its ups and downs and its tough Monday mornings, but strongly believing in your work can help overcome all of that—it definitely did for me.
Lesson #2: I can’t do everything by myself
When you are 27 years old like I am, you don’t know everything. There are many things you do for the first time and challenges you have never faced. That's why you can’t do it alone—you need to rely on a team of people who can help you get to where you want to go. Even though it seems like many companies’ success is all due to one founder (like Elon Musk at Tesla, or Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook) it’s important to remember that success is a team play. I am truly humbled by the passion, dedication, and skill of my team. Learning that I can’t succeed in everything alone has helped me better prioritize things that I’m good at while simultaneously allowing me to hand things off when I know that someone else will be much better at it.
Work stress got you down? Try this relaxing yoga pose:
Lesson #3: My personal well-being is a priority
Randi Zuckerberg once described the entrepreneur’s dilemma in a tweet as: “Maintaining friendships. Building a great company. Spending time w/family. Staying fit. Getting sleep. – Now pick 3.” I’ve learned that it’s very easy to fall into that trap. “Sure, I’ll take that call, I’ll just go to the gym tomorrow,” and “Oh, sure I’ll have my laptop with me during my vacation.” I used to find it easiest to prioritize work and would have a guilty conscience if I didn’t. But I had to learn that my life (and my career!) is marathon, not a sprint. If I want to be a good manager in this company for a long time, I need to set sustainable priorities. I work out a couple of times per week now, try to take the time to call my friends, and leave my laptop at home over weekend trips. (Kick-start your new, healthy routine with Women's Health's 12-Week Total-Body Transformation!)
My journey is still far from over. We are working hard at Ava to give women in all life stages—be it women trying to conceive, pregnant, or trying not to conceive— the insights they need. And I personally couldn’t be more excited about that.
Lea von Bidder is the president of Ava Science and the Vice President of Marketing, and a finalist in Women’s Health’s ‘Game Changers’ competition. To vote for Lea, visit womenshealthmag.com/gamechangers.